Twitter said that the Federal Trade Commission may soon fine it up to $250 million for improper use of users’ phone numbers and email addresses. The potential fines would come for violations of Twitter’s 2011 agreement with the FTC to no longer mislead consumers about how it protects their personal information.
Between 2013 and 2019, Twitter used phone numbers and email addresses provided “for safety and security purposes” to help target ads. Twitter disclosed the practice back in October, saying that it was done “inadvertently” and called it “an error.” The FTC evidently believes that Twitter misled consumers by not disclosing that their data may have been used in this way.
Twitter says that the commission sent a draft complaint on July 28th describing alleged violations of the 2011 agreement. Twitter estimates that it could be fined anywhere from $150 million to $250 million, and it’s setting aside $150 million in expectation of a fine. “The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome,” Twitter writes in its 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A spokesperson for Twitter says the company “included an estimated range for settlement” in the 10-Q filed today because the complaint was received after its quarterly results were filed on July 23rd. A spokesperson for the FTC confirmed that the agency has an “open investigation of Twitter.”
Update August 4th, 10:39AM ET: Added confirmation from an FTC spokesperson.